The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Wellington Provincial District]
Old Settlers, &C
Old Settlers, &C.
Mr. and Mrs. J. Hall.
McCardle, William Wilson, J.P., Mr. McCardle, who holds undisputed laurels as the founder of Pahiatua, is well known in many parts of the Colony, but particularly in the Wairarapa. He was born in Kirkeudbrightshire, Scotland, on the 1st of April, 1844, and was educated in the grammar school of his native county. While quite a lad he had the misfortune to lose his father, and this event was soon followed by such other reverses of fortune that at the age of eighteen he decided to come to this Colony. Arriving in Lyttelton per ship “Chariot of Foam,” he found employment on a station at Ashburton, where for two years he made good use of the knowledge of sheepfarming gained in his native land. He was then for a similar period in the employ of Mr. John Greenaway, nurseryman, of Christchurch, from whom he acquired both a knowledge of and a taste for gardening and orcharding in all their branches. In 1866 Mr. McCardle married Miss Janet C. Martin, daughter of the late Captain James Martin, master of the unfortunate coaster “Margaret”—a vessel built at Kaiwarra in the Wellington Harbour in 1845, and so completely lost on the way to Lyttelton in the following year that no vestige of either ship or cargo was ever again seen. Removing to Dunedin in 1869, Mr. McCardle commenced business on his own account as a nurseryman, and some six years later sold out and established himself in the same line in Masterton. “McCardle's apple orchard”—stocked with its hundred fruit-bearing varieties—was soon the talk of the Wairarapa. In 1884, however, he removed to Pahiatua, and though he has discontinued the nursery business, he has, at his pretty homestead on the banks of the Mangahao, a very fine orchard of some twelve acres and a flower garden containing the best collection of rhododendrons in the Colony. His dairying stock consists of about forty head of well-bred cattle. Mr. McCardle's holding contains 180 acres, and the main portion of it is set apart as a stud sheep farm. His stud flock of 300 Lincoln ewes are of the purest strains, having descended from the prize flocks of Mr. Hare, of Wanganui, and from imported ewes bred by Mr. Turner, of Lincolnshire, the sires being bred by Mr. Reid, of Eldersley, the Hon. Mathew Holmes, and other prominent breeders. Though Mr. McCardle's private achievements have been considerable, it is as a public man that he is best known. Pahiatua owes not only its name, but its very existence, to Mr. McCardle; and he was a hard worker for the public good before “The Home of the Gods” was thought of. Twenty years ago he began to agitate for land reforms, and is credited with having powerfully influenced the passing of the Land Act of 1877, and its amendment of 1879. As a member of the first Council of the borough of Masterton he did good work, and as a member of the Masterton Trust Lands Trust, he introduced the principle of full compensation for all permanent improvements effected by lessees of the trust property. As a member of the Masterton Park Trust he introduced the scheme for the laying out of the park, and himself carried it out. For seven years Mr. McCardle was a member of the Masterton School Committee, during which time he fought hard and successfully for the large new school which was at that time erected. As a member of the Wairarapa North County Council, Mr. McCardle, in company with Mr. George Beetham, represented the Alfredton riding, and got the present county of Pahiatua formed into a separate riding of the Wairarapa North County, christening it “Pahiatua”—a name which, correctly pronounced, is decidedly musical, and which in its meaning (“The page 1045 Home of the Gods”) is also most poetic and classic. Mr. McCardle's next move in the founding of Pahiatua was to get the riding placed under the control of a Road Board, his efforts being gracefully acknowledged by his election to the position of first chairman. Having progressed so far, the next step was to form the county, when Mr. McCardle had the satisfaction of seeing fairly launched the scheme of special settlements which he had so consistently advocated and so successfully helped forward. So long ago as May, 1876, Mr. McCardle explored the country now forming the county of Pahiatua—then all dense bush, but now covered with smiling farms and prosperous runs. Even then, as a member of the Wellington Waste Lands Board, he did all in his power to bring about the immediate settlement of the country he had explored. He introduced an association of some two hundred members, prepared to join in a special settlement scheme “on all fours” with the Acts subsequently passed in 1877 and 1879. In company with Mr. A. W. Renall, of Masterton, Mr. McCardle waited on the Waste Lands Board, recommending the block as especially suitable for small farms settlements, and urging that it be set apart for these purposes. The Board, however, was deaf to all entreaties at that time, stating that if the settlers wanted land they should be satisfied with second-class land instead of picking the best block in the province. But these settlers, led by Mr. McCardle, were not disposed to accept any but the best; they kept up the agitation until the Land Acts already mentioned were passed, and Pahiatua was the first block settled thereunder. Though a leader in all this work of settlement, Mr. McCardle did not actually settle himself in Pahiatua until 1884, when he took up land and laid off the township. Like many another pioneer of settlement, he was more interested in the success of his scheme than in the matter of feathering his own nest, and many less capable men now hold valuable blocks which formerly belonged to Mr. McCardle. He still holds some town lots, however, notably some good sections on each side of the road leading to the railway station. When the township of Pahiatua was laid off, there was no scarcity of croakers who said a town could never grow up there; but Mr. McCardle held a different opinion—an opinion of which he soon had reason to be proud. His efforts in the cause of the people have not gone unrewarded. In response to a numerously signed petition he was appointed the first Justice of the Peace in the district. In furtherance of his determination to see the land of this province fairly in the possession of the people in reasonably small holdings, Mr. McCardle continued his agitation in connection with the Masterton Special Settlements Association until the block known as Ballance was secured and disposed of; and he is still a hard worker in the same cause. Mr. McCardle has not yet held a seat in Parliament; but it is generally admitted that he would be a useful man there, and at the time of writing he is counted among the candidates standing in support of the Seddon Government.